Tango Learning Teachers: 4 Tips to foster better learning in class

This is a follow up from a post I wrote last week (read it here), in which I wrote about tips for tango learners to improve learning in a class. In this post, you will find the corresponding tips for tango teachers. If you are a teacher, and you liked the ideas I gave to learners, you might find this article supportive.

Good tango teaching involves being able to create the best learning environment you can. While this doesn't totally depend on you, your contribution strongly influences the tone set in class. Creating and maintaining a good learning environment involves many aspects, one of the most crucial being active student engagement.

These four tips give you pointers on how to help students awaken their body and mind during your class, increasing the level of student engagement. Having students engaged facilitates your job during class. 

A review: The four tips for tango learners

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  • Warm-up
  • Bring a question
  • Take notes
  • Cool down

The correlative teacher tips:

  • Body/mind prep
  • Make space for facilitated conversation 
  • Develop and Use Key Phrases
  • Closing
  1. Body/mind prep: your tango class plan involves students using their body in new ways. New can sometimes feel confusing and disorienting. Think about beginning class with a series of simple exercises involving movements that are geared to preparing their minds and bodies to what is coming. You can ask yourself: What is the thread behind the new ideas I am bringing to class? How can you put these ideas in simpler terms? Use the answers to create your preparation exercises.   
  2. Make space for facilitated conversation: you want those driving questions that help you carry students attention towards your goals for this class. Good questions will arise when the classroom mood is welcoming, the space is open, and everyone feels it is ok to start a conversation. You can use a few strategies: be conversational in your instruction, don't be afraid of stretching moments of silence (as silence provokes questions), encourage students to talk to each other about what they are doing, feeling, or understanding. Manage time to avoid runaway discussions. 
  3. Develop and use key phrases: students will retain information better when they can recall instructions. To help them do this, use and reuse a triggering phrase, and make it a positive one! Find a key phrase that you will come back to several times during class. A key phrase is a statement that contains your new concept, and is always presented in the same format, like a slogan.  
  4. Closing: new material needs time to get integrated, and you can help this process begin. Encourage integration by helping students relax during the last minutes of the class.